How time flies when you put off your Christmas shopping. Before you know it, shipping deadlines have passed and you still haven't decided what to get, um, anyone on your list. Happily for procrastinators and anyone confronted with a surprise giftee, last-minute gifts don't have to look last-minute. Here are a few ideas for when the clock is ticking. Chicago Tribune
Choose your own adventure
Whether it's white-water rafting in Baltimore, racing a stock car in Chicago or playing fighter pilot for a day in Orlando, a memorable experience beats a hastily selected sweater any day. At Cloud9living.com, sift through dozens of experience gifts in 43 U.S. cities and choose the one that best suits the recipient, who can later choose a convenient date to fulfill the adventure. The giftee can exchange the experience for free if he or she doesn't like the one you choose, or return it outright by Jan. 31. If you have a few days, you can order a gift box containing the certificate, brochures and a DVD of the experience, but if you're strapped for time, just e-mail or print out the gift certificate.
Signing someone up for a hobby-of-the-month club guarantees a gift will arrive at their doorstep every month for as long as you choose (usually for three, six, nine or 12 months). There's a club for almost any interest: At amazingclubs.com, you can order monthly gifts of hot sauce, candles, jerky, coffee, neckties, teddy bears, pasta, olive oil, even gourmet peanut butter and jelly. At monthclubstore.com, you can order monthly golf balls, pickles, spa body-care products and other items. You can send a gift announcement by mail or e-mail, or just print out a gift message and stick it in a card.
Maybe your giftee doesn't really need anything. In true holiday spirit, give your loved ones charitable gift cards. Many charities let you buy specific gifts in a giftee's name. Several sites, including justgive.org and network forgood.org, let you buy gift cards that recipients can use for a charity of their choice.